Governor sets execution date for Northern Kentucky murderer

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear set a Sept. 16 execution date for a rapist and murderer, but he held off signing two other death warrants Wednesday because there is a shortage of a key drug used in executions.

Beshear signed the warrant for Gregory L. Wilson, 53, saying all his appeals "as a matter of right" had been exhausted.

"I have reviewed the facts of this case in detail, and I do not find any such strong extenuating circumstances in this case," Beshear said in a statement.

Wilson was sentenced Oct. 31, 1988, to die for his part in the 1987 kidnapping and murder of Deborah Pooley a year earlier in Kenton County in Northern Kentucky. A co-defendant in the case, Brenda Humphrey, is serving a life sentence.

Wilson and Humphrey forced Pooley, a Hamilton, Ohio, native who was living in Northern Kentucky, into the back seat of her car on May 29, 1987. Wilson raped and later strangled her while Humphrey drove. Wilson was arrested two weeks later.

Beshear selected Wilson's case from among three recommended for execution warrants by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway because it was the oldest.

Requests for execution dates are pending for Ralph Baze, convicted of killing the Powell County sheriff and deputy in 1992, and Robert Carl Foley of Laurel County, convicted in 1993 and 1994 of killing six people in two incidents.

Beshear said he signed only one warrant because the state has enough sodium thiopental for just one execution. Kentucky's stock expires Oct. 1, and a new supply of the drug is not expected until early in 2011.

"The Cabinet's repeated attempts to obtain additional thiopental have so far been unsuccessful," Beshear said.

Wilson's execution would be the first since Kentucky readopted its lethal injection protocol in May, seven months after the Kentucky Supreme Court halted all executions, ruling that there were problems with the way the protocol was put in place.

Three other inmates are challenging the way the protocol was readopted, but a judge in Frankfort has not ruled in the case.

Wilson has also filed a federal lawsuit challenging multiple aspects of Kentucky's execution protocol.

Kentucky has executed three people since 1976. Harold McQueen was executed in the electric chair in 1997 for killing a convenience store clerk in 1981. Eddie Lee Harper was executed by lethal injection in 1999. Marco Allen Chapman was executed by lethal injection in November 2008.